Daz was now sat in Greg's office and the two of them were entirely alone. Daz had given Madison the very important task of gathering up all of the corpses of the Lizardmen from today and the bodies and bones of the Wyverns from the first cycle's attack. Naturally, he had gained Greg's permission to do this.
"So, you can gain stats from absorbing the souls of these monsters? I find that hard to believe," General Miller said as he poured some vintage Scottish malt whiskey into two clear glasses.
Daz shrugged. "The system has all sorts of crazy features." Daz took a seat next to the large office desk and looked around a bit as he added, "Thanks again for letting me take the souls, by the way."
"Well, does my permission really matter? In the end, you would have taken them anyway if you really wanted to, and besides, I can't use them, so it's fine," Greg said as he put the whiskey bottle back into his special liquor cabinet and sat down with heavy motions.
The General slid one of the glasses towards Daz across the desk before he picked the other one up and took a large mouthful of the fiery liquid. Daz, not wanting to be rude, followed suit.
Greg noticed, that despite the large alcoholic content of the drink, Daz's face didn't crumble in the slightest nor did he seem to be in any pain. "Used to a bit of hard liquor, are we?"
"Not really," Daz replied as he took another sip, "I'm not a Human anymore. Reapers, my new species, are naturally resistant to things that affect the mind, that includes alcohol. The physical burn is easy to ignore as well considering what I've been through," he added.
'There's also my immunity stat, but it'd be best to keep that one a secret in case he ever actually tries to poison me,' Daz said to himself.
"Evolutions, huh?" Greg questioned rhetorically. "I did a bit of research on the topic once my status said I was in the beginning stages of evolving. It's pretty interesting stuff."
"I'd greatly recommend abandoning your humanity to gain power, but at the same time, don't change yourself so much that you would become a completely different person," Daz advised as he recalled the Soul Devourer option that he was granted in his second evolution.
"I'll keep that in mind," Greg loosely replied before he closed his eyes and took a moment to savour the malt whiskey.
The General soon opened his eyes and sighed. "Well, onto the main topic, I suppose. What are your terms?"
"Pardon?" Daz replied.
Greg stood up and began pacing around the room slowly. "It's become clear to me that it is impossible for me to protect my people alone. Since this whole 'apocalypse' has started, I've lost forty soldiers. Each and every one of them was a person with a family, with hopes, with dreams. At this rate, the regular civilians will start getting caught in the crossfire as well."
Greg placed his hands behind his back and looked at the still seated Daz before he asked, "Since day one, how many of your people have died?"
"Exactly three, and they all died today in an avoidable accident during our attack," Daz said. He purposefully excluding General Retford's men since Daz could restore them with his merit points.
"An avoidable accident, you say?" Greg asked with a suspicious tone in his voice.
Daz nodded. "Our monster was a single Frost Phoenix. We killed it once and some of our fighters didn't know that Phoenixes revive upon death at least once, so they became careless. It was my fault for not informing everyone as soon as the monster appeared, but what's done is done."
"That's... unfortunate... Was Dorian...?" There was a particular tremble in General Miller's voice as he mentioned his son, and he imagined the timid and cowardly boy dying after relaxing for a split second in a life-or-death battle.
"Dorian is fine. In fact, he's more than fine," Daz responded, lifting the massive weight that pressuring Greg's heart.
"That's great, but what do you mean?" Greg questioned.
"He's growing, Greg. If you saw him today, you might not think that he was the same person as he was only a few days ago," Daz said as he got up and finished his glass of whiskey.
"Anyway, my terms. They're very simple, really. I just want you to bring everyone to Fort Skip and live peaceful lives there. You can choose to help during the attacks or you can hide with everyone else as I and my fighters protect you," Daz said as he walked past Greg.
"I expect nothing from you and have no demands except to follow the same rules that everyone else in Fort Skip has to follow. Although, you and your soldiers will be forced to work with Sandy, my Construction Foreman, to help build enough houses to give everyone a home initially. I do have a dungeon that will work in the meantime, but it's not ideal," Daz explained.
"Is that really everything?" Greg asked with an uncertain tone in his voice.
"Yes," Daz instantly replied. "That is, indeed, everything. You are my fellow survivors, not my enemies, nor will you be my prisoners. I just want to protect everyone."
"I... I see. I'll have to discuss it with the people, but I'll definitely have an answer for you by this evening," Greg said.
'It seems like the thought seed I planted a while ago is finally bearing fruit. This is great. How many people are here? Two, no, maybe three hundred? That will boost the base's merit point tax and base points by a lot...' Daz's calculative mind was praising itself repeatedly for handling this situation with a calm and kind demeanour.
Daz could really see how much he'd changed since the day that he blackmailed weapons and trucks out of this place, and while he regretted those actions, the young Reaper could honestly see how helpful that mistake had been in changing his direction and attitude.
"I look forward to it. If you do decide to stay here, I'll try my best every afternoon to come here and help you deal with your monsters after my own attack is over. After all, the stat points from more monsters is an appealing prospect in and of itself," Daz said with a broken grin as he left the office.
Greg sat back down at his desk and chuckled lightly. "In the end, he's only out to benefit himself... but I really can't stay here... We're too weak. Oh well, I think my men and the people have enough trust left in me for me to be able to convince them that leaving is the better option. Success never comes without any risks..."
"Yo, Captain Ahab, whatcha doin' here?" Crusher asked as she jumped up onto the shipping container that Dorian was lying down on top of with his lone hand behind his head as he gazed at the sky.
"Crusher?" Dorian replied as he grimaced from the impact of Crusher's landing. She wasn't the most gentle person, that was sure, and Dorian felt sorry for the steel of the container's roof that was screaming in pain.
Dorian raised his chest and looked at the tall and muscular woman standing happily in front of him. "I'm surprised you can be so cheerful after today."
Crusher looked confused for a second before she widened her eyes in realisation. "Hahaha! Of course I'm sad. Today was shit, but what can I do? Life moves on. No point moping around like a little bitch. You upset about Sarah? You had a crush on her, didn't you?"
Dorian smiled weakly. "Was it that obvious?"
"It could've only been more clear if you glued a big neon sign to your head that said, 'I want to be inside Sarah', hahaha!" Crusher roared tactlessly.
Dorian buried his head in his single hand and his face turned red. "You don't have to bo so crude, Crusher. People don't like that kinda stuff."
"I don't give a fuck. I'm me, anyone who doesn't like that, can go take a hike for all I care. Anyway, stop moping about. You're not the one who has to tell her boyfriend that she's dead, now are you? Just remember her and your feelings and move on," Crusher said with a wave of her hand to emphasise how little Dorian should be focusing on this right now.
"She... She had a boyfriend?" Dorian said with some shock in his voice.
"Yup. I even met the guy. He was a bit weird. This guy called... what was his name... Sean, I think? He's in Middletown with Ben and Adam," Crusher explained lightly.
"Ben? Adam? Who?" Dorian responded a bit absentmindedly. 'Of course she had a boyfriend... That makes sense... I wonder how Crusher knew though? They weren't that close... Maybe Daz read it on Sarah's status or on this 'Sean' person's status?'
Regardless of her peculiar tactics, Crusher had successfully managed to divert Dorian's attention and prevent him from falling into a spiral of depression and self-loathing, which made her happy.
Dorian was her personal stress ball to vent on, and if she had to choose, Crusher would honestly say that Dorian was her favourite person to talk to, even more so than Daz and Edward whom she both greatly enjoyed conversing with.
Daz and Madison were on their way back to Fort Skip.
Daz was currently looking at his status screen after having consumed the souls of the Lizardman Chieftain, the Adult Wyvern, whom both counted as medium quality souls, and all of the lesser souls that he was permitted to absorb today.
Every other one of the bodies was given to Reika who seemed to be sleeping comfortably on top of Daz's hair.
|Class:||Shovel Knight||Affinity:||Lawful Neutral|
|Strength:||488(585) [+ 15]||Dexterity:||438(525) [+ 15]|
|Constitution:||488(585) [+ 15]||Agility:||523 [+ 15]|
|Charisma:||570 [+ 15]||Ingenuity:||738 [+ 15]|
|Defense:||348(3,333) [+ 15]||Immunity:||216 [+ 15]|
|Soul Power:||0||Luck:||185(190) [+ 15]|
|Justice:||105 [+ 5]||Corruption:||0|
|Combo:||86 [+ 15]||Wisdom:||86 [+ 15]|
'Only five points per boss and five in total for five-hundred lesser souls? The ratio of stats to souls is definitely decreasing. I need stronger souls for good increases, huh? It's a bit like Hamson then. He doesn't even fuse with regular shovels anymore, so maybe soon lesser souls won't give me any stats at all?' Daz wondered.
'Still, it looks like I dealt with Greg pretty well since I gained Justice points and didn't start creeping towards corruption," Daz noted happily.
The young Reaper continued to hold Madison's hand as he thought, by her request, of course. She wanted a reward for gathering the bodies like Daz had asked her to, and holding hands all the way back to Fort Skip seemed to be her only desire.
"By the way, Maddy, are you really okay holding hands in public like this?" Daz asked the blushing girl who was grinning with her eyes.
She looked at Daz's face and tilted her head. "People, none. Okay. No, like?"
"Of course I like it," Daz replied before he pulled Madison smoothly via her hand to be in front of him. He then kissed her lightly and hugged her. "Anything I get to do with you is nice, so why would I not like it? What a silly question."
Madison hit Daz's chest playfully and returned to his side, however, now she was slightly closer to him and she was pressing herself against his arm a little. "Bad."
Daz chuckled lightly. "Sorry, you're just fun to tease. By the way, that sheath and belt you got as a reward, how is it any different from your last one?"
"You, Look. Don't, mind," Madison responded in her broken English.
Now with permission, Daz immediately used his Higher Identification on the decorative pieces of leather that were keeping Madison's sword attached to her waist.
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